Composer Spotlight Lent V: Arvo Pärt

March 31, 2017 Comments Off on Composer Spotlight Lent V: Arvo Pärt

The choral music scheduled at St. Luke’s for the Fifth Sunday in Lent (April 2nd) will be:

  • Thomas Stoltzer – Judica me, Deus (Introit)
  • Arvo Pärt – De profundis
  • Iain Quinn – O esca viatorum
  • Richard Proulx – We adore you, O Christ
  • Arvo Pärt – Pari intervallo

– Blog Editor


The music of Estonian-born composer Arvo Pärt is unique in the contemporary music world and has attracted a substantial following in recent years.  Pärt’s early music was solidly in the atonal serial idiom.  By the early 1970’s he had reached a dead end compositionally.  At about this time, he converted to Orthodoxy, and also discovered the power of Gregorian chant and early Renaissance polyphony.  His response was to develop a tonal idiom based on a mixture of scales and triads, a style that he calls “tintinnabuli”.  Listening to this music is similar to viewing an icon: the music does not “go” anywhere but rather “exists”, emerging out of silence and receding back into silence.

Pärt left his native Estonia in 1980 and subsequently settled in Berlin.  De profundis was composed in the same year.  A setting of Psalm 130, it is one of his most impassioned vocal works.  The relatively simple material unfolds in an unwavering manner, adding voices in a single dynamic arch.

Pari intervallo was originally composed for four wind instruments, though the organ version is the more familiar.  The title describes the musical material: a pair of voices moves in strict parallel, with a second pair of voices filling in the music.  The piece was composed in 1976 ‘in memoriam’ for a friend who had died.

Iain Quinn was born in Cardiff, and began his training as a chorister at Llandaff Cathedral. He subsequently studied at The Juilliard School, Larry Allen at The Hartt School, the University of Hartford and at the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University.  In 2013 Mr. Quinn was appointed Assistant Professor of Organ at Florida State University. The recipient of several awards Mr. Quinn was awarded a Fellowship by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, an award from The Prince’s Trust and is the recipient of an ASCAPlus award from The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.  His motet O esca viatorum was commissioned by the Concert Choir of the University of New Mexico.  The text is an anonymous hymn first published in Mainz in 1661.

Richard Proulx was a prolific composer with more than 300 published works, including congregational music in every form, sacred and secular choral works, song cycles, two operas, and instrumental and organ music. A Roman Catholic church musician, he served on the core committee for such hymnals as The Hymnal 1982, New Yale Hymnal, the Methodist Hymnal, Worship-Second and Third Editions. Proulx was a member of The Standing Commission on Church Music of the Episcopal Church and was a founding member of The Conference of Roman Catholic Cathedral Musicians. He may be best known to Episcopal congregations for his setting of the Sanctus & Benedictus, S125 in the Hymnal 1982.

Spotlight on Arvo Pärt:

Missa Syllabica

Magnificat

Cantate Domino

Cantus in memory of Benjamin Britten (orchestral)

– David Shuler, Director of Music

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